Starting off with a good thing that should have happened years ago, Mahershala Ali was the first Muslim to win an Oscar for acting. He played the character Juan, a gay black Miami native, in the film Moonlight. This is one of the only movies I’ve seen in theaters and although it doesn’t reference religion or muslim prejudice, international recognition for Muslims is always a positive.
While Moonlight seems like the obvious winner this year, it didn’t always seem this would be the case. In an alleged accident(that coincidentally headline grabbing news) the award almost went to La La Land, the high grossing musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. While I hold conspiratorial views on the likelihood of the gaff being real, the responses certainly were. The gasps on their faces are almost audible.
And while I haven’t seen La La Land yet, and can’t pass and overall judgement, one Arab actor declared he would be leaving the industry if it beat out Moonlight, a film he argues signifies Hollywood finally opening up to a diversity of experiences. Although, La La Land doesn’t have negative portrayals of Muslims, the film does look like the whitest thing since Duck Dynasty. Anyone trying to return to “the happier times of the 1950’s,” immediately ends up on my suspect list. That was before women could open their own bank accounts and schools were still segregated.